Officers are often liked or hated in our society today, either its because one has had a bad run in with them and received a ticket or had them saved their life from danger. Officers are the enforcers of law in everyday life, but do people understand the ideal conduct expected of an officer and the realities that really happens? In George Orwell’s “A Hanging” and “Shooting an Elephant,” both a short story talk about the thoughts of an officer about to perform a task and is fighting his own conscience. There are a few ideal conducts and duties expected from an officer, but when ones emotion comes into play, it changes the outcome drastically. The ideal conduct of an officer is to perform their duties, when to use force, and to have good morals and ethics.
The list of duties an officer is to have humanity, have integrity, be professional, and to have courage. In Orwell’s “A Hanging” the execution of a prisoner got to Orwell when he saw the inmate step aside to avoid a puddle. Orwell mentioned that he “saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it was in full tide. This man was not dying he was alive just as we are alive.”(Orwell, A Hanging 68) Orwell didn’t have the mental or moral strength to perform a task he was asked to do because he was going to help end someone’s life. But in that instant Orwell had to perform his duty and had to bring the fellow prisoner to his death. Police officers are faced with many tough tasks and it takes a lot of courage to do what they do because they see things and perform tasks that many others do not understand. But the conscience of a human being is part of his or hers DNA and that is why Orwell has a conflict in performing his duty.
Officers are justified to using their guns when trouble hits but in Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant,” Orwell fights with his own thoughts and shoots an elephant to please the crowd of Burmese onlookers and his self image from humiliation. Many officer shootings get looked into and are often talked about if it was ever necessary to use such actions, just like how Orwell shot an elephant but didn’t need to. When Orwell “pulled the trigger [he] did not hear the bang or feel the kick,” (Orwell, Shooting an Elephant 76) a thought that no one should have because a gun shot is very loud, let alone he was the one that pulled it. Orwell did not hear it because he knows what he just did was unnecessary he had just shot and killed an elephant that did no more harm and merely moments ago “beating a bunch of grass against [its] knees.” (Orwell, Shooting an Elephant 74) An officer’s use of force is always the most controversial topic because “police officers are exclusively empowered with the authority to use force against other members of the community.” (McElvain) Often times there would be a great amount talks about if the shooting were justified, but Orwell also acknowledges that he “often wondered whether any of the others grasped that [he] had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.” (Orwell, Shooting an Elephant 77) Orwell was a European in Burma, where many Europeans were hated and Orwell received lots of “sneering yellow faces of young men that met [him] everywhere, the insults hooted after [him which]” (Orwell, Shooting an Elephant 71) eventually got to his nerves. Orwell’s own emotions got the best of him and therefore had to use unnecessary force when he could have waited for the elephants owner to arrive before making the call to end the animal’s life.
Police officers are held at a higher standard than others because they are “above the law.” However, there have been “countless accounts of police brutality and abuse of authority.”(Pagon) Orwell showed a prime example of fighting his morals when he shot the elephant dead. Orwell could have waited for the elephant’s owner to come and assist the situation but because…